Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Why Couldn't I Keep My Cat?

When an illness or accident ends in death, the one left alone can cry out to God. He will listen and answer with love and compassion. He does not cause us to lose the ones we love to draw us closer to Him, instead, He draws us closer to Him because He knows that we are going to lose loved ones.

If you've lost a friend or loved one through death, then you probably know there is one little word that poses a huge question, "Why?" 

Some of us have had a really hard time reconciling answers to this question. Others are afraid to even ask fearing that it might be wrong to question God. Is God big enough to handle our questions? 
Does God get mad when we ask questions? 
Will God answer our questions? 

Will we ever know "Why?"

Peggy is one of the kindest, most gentle ladies I've ever met. She is a caring person whose giant heart has known more than its share of sadness. She has cared for several friends and family members with cancer, even her cat and dog had cancer. I's been said that everyone will have a close friend or family member with cancer, and this may be as true for you and me as it has been for Peggy.

After her husband's battle with cancer, Peggy found it comforting to have her old friend, Fluffy, sleeping by her side. Some how the night did not seem as dark, the room as cold and lonely, nor the day as tiring when she could hear the soft purr of her gentle companion. Falling asleep alone is one of the hardest things to do when you've lost a husband. Tossing on a pillowcase that is damp with your own tears when you're somewhere between exhaustion and insomnia can be a very lonely place.

Peggy fell asleep many nights talking over the events and problems of the day with Fluffy. Sometimes Peggy wondered if Fluffy missed Duke as much as she missed Ricky. Duke was a Lab who had joined the family long before the death of Peggy's husband, Ricky. When Fluffy strayed into the family a few years later, Duke had acted all big and bad at first just to make sure he was still the Alpha dog. But soon Fluffy won his heart as well as Peggy's.

Duke's death was a sharp contrast to his long, care-free life. At the very end, it was determined that Duke had cancer. "What a slap in the face," Peggy thought. Ricky had died just the year before after a two-year battle with cancer. And now, Duke! It didn't seem right that this should be happening all over again. Peggy was grateful that he didn't suffer as long as Ricky had battled the disease, and certainly it was not as bad as all the hospital stays and medical bills. But it still hurt to come home without Duke's joyful welcome at the front door.

Then Fluffy began to show troublesome signs of aging. Peggy noticed that she didn't jump on the back of the sofa when the afternoon sun cast wispy shadows on the wall. Birds landing on the window sill outside didn't seem to catch her eye quite as often, and she slept a lot more than usual. Peggy wanted to think that Fluffy was just getting old and maybe bored without Duke. But in her heart, she felt that familiar dread that maybe it was something more serious. When she came home from work and noticed that Fluffy had not eaten for the third day in a row, Peggy knew it was time to take her to the vet.

Coming home without Fluffy was just as hard as loosing Duke. The vet said the kind and humane thing to do was to let her go peacefully without suffering the effects of feline leukemia any longer. The words "kind and humane" echoed in Peggy's mind as she drove home alone. No one seemed to be worried about being kind or humane when it came to the pain that stabbed  through Peggy's heart like a jagged knife.

How could God take every one in her house? Why was God punishing me, making me live alone, letting even the dog and cat die from cancer? Peggy began to silently ask herself these questions in the car on the way home. Bitter tears made it hard to see the street signs, but it didn't matter because she knew that lonely road so well. Her life felt as dark as the dead end street.

No one at home, no one to talk to, no one to cook for, no one to sleep with, no one to hold when your heart is breaking. Peggy wept bitter tears sitting in the middle of the bed feeling abandoned and very much alone. She really didn't feel like praying, but she had plenty she wanted to say to God.  And that one big question, "Why?"  She cried out the question that she couldn't keep in her heart. "Why, God, why couldn't I keep my cat?" 

Through tears and sobs, Peggy poured out her hurt to God. It wasn't a prayer. It wasn't a conversation. It was as honest as it gets though. "Why did you take my cat? Now I have no one left to talk to at night!" 

And the answer came quietly, "Maybe you could talk to me."  God's still small voice was filled with kindness and compassion. "Just talk to me, Peggy."  

God's gentle answer was loving, caressing her pain. No, He did not take away everyone in Peggy's house that she loved. Cancer took their lives. But when there was no one else to answer the cries of hopelessness, God was there with a soft voice that said, "I love you and I will listen." 

When an illness or accident ends in death, the one left alone can cry out to God. He will listen and answer with love and compassion. He does not cause us to lose the ones we love to draw us closer to Him, instead, He draws us closer to Him because He knows that we are going to lose loved ones. He knows that pain will be like nothing we've ever experienced before, and He wants to be the One we turn to for comfort.  He loves us so well, and He doesn't mind the questions or the cries of anger, pain, and loneliness. He will listen and He will answer when we call out to Him.   

"May the LORD give strength to his people!  May the LORD bless his people with peace!" - Psalm 29:11

Lord, when we hurt more than words can express, and all we have are tears and unanswered questions, please answer with your goodness and love. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

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